British lawmakers have proposed school transportation legislation in Parliament that they hope would cut pollution, reduce traffic congestion, and encourage students to exercise.
The School Transport Bill would provide selected local education authorities, akin to American school districts, with £200,000 each ($357,298 U.S.) in start-up funding for programs that would cause less harm to the environment and make students healthier.
According to England’s Department for Education and Skills, the pilot programs would include implementation of “walking buses,” in which students would walk to school in adult-led groups and collect other students from set locations along the route; creation of safe bicycle routes to schools; and the staggering of starting times at different schools in the same area.
The bill would also try to make student-transportation fees more equitable. It would allow local authorities to charge parents for school travel, while taking into account how much each family was able to pay. Students who live more than three miles from their schools receive free transportation now, but the families of most students who live closer must cover the cost themselves.
The current system also does not account for family income. According to an Education Department poll, in households that make less than £25,000 ($44,657 U.S.), parents pay 69 percent of transportation costs, while the government subsidizes the remainder. The same poll shows that in households that make £25,000 or more, the parents bear only 56 percent of the cost.
Coverage of cultural understanding and international issues in education is supported in part by the Atlantic Philanthropies.